Relationships are hard. Especially when nuclear weapons are involved.
It is no secret that North Korean and American communication has been complicated from the start. However, many millennials have begun to question why such tension continues to exist.
In what seems to be an endless stalemate between two stubborn countries, millennials ask the question, “Why can’t North Korea and America at least move to a point of being frenemies?”
For those who need some millennial language refreshing, a ‘frenemy’ is someone who is friendly at face value while still holding negative feelings when apart.
Recent developments with “The Interview” scandal and questions of possible nuclear testing plants being revived have not made positive progress in these two countries’ relationship. With negative propaganda spread throughout both North Korea and America about the opposing country, it is safe to say that these two countries have become arch enemies.
With this deteriorating relationship so prevalent in the news, it is important to understand critical points of why this relationship has developed as it has in order to begin efforts towards reconciliation. Just as in a relationship between two individuals, these countries has recently encouraged more tension by succumbing to three detrimental acts for any relationship.
1) Promises were broken.
This is particularly seen in communication about nuclear weapons. In the past few months, satellite images indicate that North Korea could have possibly rebooted one of its nuclear reaction plants that contains plutonium. The “38 North Web” site is said to be used for nuclear testing. If what the images indicate is true, then North Korea is violating an agreement made with the US and five other countries in 2012 called the “Leap Day Deal”. It stated that the American government would provide food aid if the North Korean government suspended its work of enriching uranium and allowed international inspectors to check their nuclear plants. North Korea breached this agreement six weeks after its creation in when its military test launched a nuclear rocket.
These breaches in agreement make any continuing relationship extremely difficult. With broken promises comes broken trust, which is one of the fundamental aspects of any type of relationship, including a frenemy.
2) They did not tell the truth.
As seen in many journalistic stories from North Korea, it is a requirement for foreign journalists in North Korea to be accompanied by a North Korean guide at all times while on their visit.
Anna Fifield from the Washington Post has taken six trips to North Korea as a journalist. She reveals that on her trips to the country, the guides display a fabricated city and rehearsed speeches. She notices, “Take our visit to the East Pyongyang Grand Theater[…] On the stage, men in sharp tuxedos and women in sparkly dresses sang away, while the huge screen behind them beamed pictures of missiles launching and a smiling Kim Jong Un. Yet the restrooms smelled like an outhouse and had no running water.”
It is this carefully crafted façade that brings foreigners to doubt most things the North Korean government presents to them. When a government goes to such lengths to control an environment, foreign journalists cannot help but wonder what they are hiding.
Relationships cannot form when truth is hidden, even when they are frenemies.
3) They built up walls.
North Korea is not the only government at fault in this rocky relationship. The US’s insensitivity towards the people of North Korea in the movie “The Interview” does not help in closing the gap between these two countries. As seen by North Korea’s response to the movie, the option of moving towards becoming frenemies is far from a possibility in the near future.
In an article from London in Dazed, a journalist watched “The Interview” with two North Korean escapees. Their opinions of the movie were surprising.
One watcher stated, “I am a defector. But when I watched this film I felt insulted. I understand it’s comedy, it’s not serious. But even though they are laughing, it demeans North Korean people.”
She continues by saying, “If they spread The Interview to North Korea, it will make people hate America much much more.”
This America movie has built up culture walls that will be very difficult to tear back down. With two cultures so completely different, creating controversial films about each other is simply insensitive and unbecoming.
Overall, these two countries have struggled to communicate on any sort of civil level in the past or present. With fault on both ends, it is easy to see how the relationship developed has stayed at the status of enemy for as along as the relationship has existed.
In order to move forward toward at least coming frenemies, North Korean and American governments must understand the relational blunders described and make efforts to reverse them.
Though progress will be slow, awareness is the first step towards change. Who knows what the future holds for these two countries.